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Significant increase in TBE this year – the impact of COVID

The number of TBE cases has taken a real step this year. Photo: Martin Kahlberg Graphics: Ted Carlson

TBE gradually spread westward into Sweden. In 2021, cases were reported from all counties except Norrbotten and Westerbotten. From Västernorrland and Gotland only one case each from Jämtland and Gävleborg two.

Most cases have been reported from Stockholm County (116), followed by Västra Götaland County (102). This is followed by Uppsala Province (63) and Södermanland Province (39). In the provinces of Västmanland, Östergötland and Örebro, 27 cases were reported each during the year. In Värmland and Skåne 19 each.

There are several reasons why hunters and others who spend a lot of time in the wild are alert to tick bites. TBE is one of them. Photo: Kenneth Johansson


According to the Swedish Public Health Agency, 200-300 cases of tuberculosis are usually reported in Sweden. Infection occurs mainly in southern and central Sweden. It is most common in the Uppland and Södermanland archipelagos and around Lake Mälaren, but the infection is spreading to the west and is becoming more common in several places in southern Sweden.

This is what the spread across the country’s municipalities looked like last year. No map ready yet for 2021. Source: FHM

Does the Swedish Public Health Agency see any connection with the Covid-19 virus, with more and more people in nature?

– Yes, one of the factors in the increase in cases of tuberculosis this year is the increase in the number of people who are out in nature. Another important factor is the presence of a large number of rodents in 2020, says Christina Hamarin-Busch of the authority in an email response to Svenske Jacket.

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other countries

The disease is also found in several places in other Baltic states, not least in Öland, as well as in eastern and central Europe.

TBE, tick-borne encephalitis, is a disease that can be transmitted from mainly small, wild rodents to humans via tick bites. It is not transmitted between people.

The average age of the disease is 50 years, and approximately two-thirds of those affected were men. The information in the above table is from 2020 but according to the Swedish Public Health Agency also for 2021. Source: FHM

High temperature

Many infected people have no or only mild symptoms, but acute tuberculosis appears in the form of encephalitis with high fever, severe headache, confusion and sometimes seizures and paralysis, according to Swedish Public Health Agency website.

Most people with the disease recover completely, but about a third of them develop permanent or long-term problems.


A vaccine against TBE provides good protection against disease. Vaccination is recommended for residents of high-risk areas and for people who spend a lot of time in forests and lands in high-risk areas and who are often bitten by ticks.

The disease was reported in 2004. Most cases of TBE were reported during the summer and fall, the vast majority in August.

Does the Swedish Public Health Agency recommend vaccination for all fishermen in southern Sweden?

We don’t have a specific recommendation for hunters in particular, but we recommend that everyone who stays in nature in danger areas to get vaccinated, says Christina Hammarin-Busch.

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